Saturday, May 27, 2017

More Shocking News from the Fair-Weather Free Speech Brigade

Some people didn't want Linda Sarsour giving a commencement address at CUNY. Those people included notorious Islamophobe Pam Geller and alt-right troll Milo Yiannopoulos. Their protest ended up turning violent, with one counterprotester reportedly surrounded and beaten.

You might remember Milo as the guy whose speech at Berkeley was squelched by violent protests. That set off a lot of talk about free speech -- consider my own remarks condemning said protests. But I was never under illusions that the conservative defense of Milo was really about free speech, let alone that Milo himself was a principled defender of it. One defends Milo speaking at Berkeley for the same reason one defends the Nazis marching through Skokie. The prospect that the speakers themselves don't care about free speech doesn't really factor in.

Meanwhile, a Republican who bodyslammed a reporter just got elected to Congress in Montana. So perhaps we can dispense with the fiction that there exists in the modern conservative movement some deeply rooted commitment to free speech right now that runs beyond partisan politics. As much as commitment to free speech may be decaying on the modern left, it faces just as much threat on the right.

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